When a company with Volvos reputation declares its new car to be the safest it has ever built, you sit up and take notice.
That car is the new XC60 4x4, and Volvos confidence is based on the number of safety systems packed in the car. These features include City Safety, which uses laser technology to detect impacts up to 10 metres ahead and automatically brakes the car if it senses it is about to have a front-end impact.
Volvo estimates that it will stop the car before a collision if the speed difference is less than 12mph, or slow the impact at speeds of between 12mph and 20mph. However, Volvo warns that it is not as effective in foggy conditions or if the windscreen is dirty.
In addition, the system monitors the likely severity of any impact and adapts seatbelt loadings accordingly to ensure maximum protection.
Volvo has also uprated its stability and traction control systems, and fitted a system to lessen the likelihood of towing accidents resulting from a trailer snaking. Hill descent control and a system that reduces engine power if it detects the possibility of a roll are fitted as standard, too.
Volvo describes the XC60 as having the high ground clearance and large wheels of a 4x4, but the styling of a coup. Design highlights include the large panoramic roof, a choice of 17-, 18- and 19-inch wheels and the eye-watering option of having the interior trim in Lemon Green.
It will be launched with four-wheel drive as standard and three engine options. These are a 279bhp 3.0-litre petrol engine and two 2.4-litre diesels fettled to give 160bhp and 181bhp. They each link up to six-speed automatic or manual gearboxes.
A two-wheel-drive version of the car, powered by a 160bhp diesel that emits about 170g/km of carbon dioxide, will go on sale in 2009.
Volvo expects to sell approximately 50,000 XC60s around the world each year. Although there's no official confirmation, prices are expected to start at about 25,000.